Home' Navy News : June 24th 2010 Contents 14
Packing a power
Earlier this month five of the fleet were put through
their paces, in waters off Darwin, as part of the Minor
War Vessel Concentration Period -- a collective
training activity geared at honing fundamental war-
fighting skills in the Minor War Vessel community
while exercising border protection competencies,
amphibious skills and common mariner skills.
Natalie Staples reports from Darwin.
THEY may be small, but the
concentrated force of the
RAN's Minor War Vessels
packs a powerful punch.
Cairns-based HMAS Bundaberg
joined Darwin-based HMA Ships
Glenelg, Pirie, Balikpapan and Betano
for the two-week exercise.
Following a comprehensive harbour
phase of briefings covering topics like
force protection, damage control and
an inter-ship sports day that saw Assail
Five claim victory in the touch football
competition, the ships sailed for a chal-
lenging sea phase.
The sea phase, comprising graduated
serials, began with the ships departing
Darwin harbour in formation and hon-
ing their officer of the watch manoeu-
vres as they sailed to the Beagle Gulf.
Bundaberg conducted an aviation serial
with a media contingent winched from
the deck by an Agusta A109E helicopter
from 723 Squadron.
Commander of the Task Group,
CMDR Alex Hawes, said the safe and
efficient conduct of helo operations was
a big ticket item in terms of the out-
comes of MWVCP.
"During the sea phase, we success-
fully put all crews over the ASSA line,"
CMDR Hawes said.
"The crews' consolidated skills can
now be exported throughout the fleet,
as these crews move on to serve else-
During the sea phase the training
escalated from seamanship, tactical evo-
lutions and gunnery to complex multi-
unit activities, including an amphibious
non-combatant evacuation operation
(NEO) staged at the HMAS Coonawarra
boat ramp, supported by the Army's
2 Cavalry Regiment with an ASLAV,
GMV and three Unimogs.
"The NEO was an opportunity to
train for assistance to civil community
and, importantly, integrated the Army.
The interoperability between the RAN
and Army is essential for current ADF
operations and pertinent for the future
capability," CMDR Hawes said.
Crews were also challenged to
integrate to achieve a mission during a
scenario-based boarding operation. The
serial began with the A109E helicopter
searching the grid for MV Sapphire Bay
and two DMS assets simulating fish-
ing vessels and a SIEV. Once located,
the ACPBs swung into action locating
and conducting multiple boardings. To
complicate the scenario, three additional
patrol boats, HMA Ships Launceston,
Childers and Wollongong, were intro-
duced unexpectedly and a search and
rescue operation was conducted, which
saw Glenelg tow Childers.
For the second year running, Betano
was recognised as the most proficient
during sea phase.
"The free-play period provided the
ships and aircraft with an opportunity to
exercise control of force in a scenario-
based time frame, allowing for free
thought and the coordination of multiple
classes of ships to achieve the mission,"
CMDR Hawes said.
"It really set my team back on their
haunches to see the way in which the
assigned units carved through the free
play phase. With an hour to run I had
used all my planned primary and contin-
gency scenarios. That's a pretty satisfy-
ing place to be at the end of the day.
"In company, time is a precious
resource to our ships at sea so, while
it can be challenging to schedule exer-
cises, given the high tempo of Operation
Resolute commitments, it remains
achievable. Too busy to train is an unac-
ceptable stance, as all these capabilities
CMDR Hawes said the patrol boats
and landing craft that took part in
MWVCP 2010 provided a wide range
of services, ranging from specific naval
operations, logistic support to fleet
activities and remote communities, and
the training of officers and sailors in
general mariner and employment-spe-
"In terms of the defence of
Australia's national interests, these ships
operate on the front line of border pro-
tection, in support of Defence interna-
tional engagement activities and, when
required, in aid to the civil community.
As such, the crews must remain at the
top of their game," CMDR Hawes said.
"During the exercise the crews per-
formed very well, but there still remains
scope for improvement across the board.
What really impressed me was to see the
enthusiasm at all levels for the training
on offer. Where opportunities presented
to exercise further, invariably commands
took up the challenge without hesitation.
"We have a dedicated body of
Servicemen and women in the MWV
community supported by an extraordi-
narily understanding family network.
We know our efforts contribute signifi-
cantly to the safety, security and good
order of the country we love. We need
no more motivation than that and we
expect no accolades for the privilege of
the duty of Service. On on."
FIRE!: LSBM Adam Yarnold (left), SMNBM Cory Pickett (right) and SMNBM R
Concentration Period in waters off Darwin, while inset, HMAS Glenelg conduc
AT THE READY: (Left) Members of
the ship's security team prepare to
conduct a naval evacuation opera-
tion exercise on board HMAS Betano
during the MWVCP.
FINE FORMATION: (Right) Armidale
Class Patrol Boats enter Darwin
Harbour in formation with Landing
Craft Heavy at the end of the
Photos: ABIS James Whittle
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